Continuing what has become a Wellesley tradition, Saint Paul Church held the annual Veterans’ Ecumenical Memorial Mass in honor of the many Wellesley veterans who have illustriously served the country in the armed services. Begun by members of the Wellesley Veterans’ Council and now in its sixteenth year, the ceremony is an occasion for family, friends, and community residents to participate in honoring members of all four branches of the military, both living and deceased, for their service on behalf of freedom for all Americans. This year’s commemorative Mass was celebrated by Saint Paul Pastor, Rev. Richard Fitzgerald.
The veterans, led by United States Air Force Reserve Colonel Robert H. Murphy, processed into the church and took their seats of honor on the front pews. All saluted the flag. Participating veterans were: Commander Tory DeFazio, U.S. Navy Reserve and of the Naval Medical and Dental Corp were Captain Dr. Leon Briggs and Captain Robert J. Thomas; of the U.S. Army were Lieutenant Robert Hinchliffe, Infantry, and John Saunders; and of the U.S. Marine Corp, Stanley W. Spears, Jr., who is also the Director of the West Suburban Veterans’ Service District.
“St. Paul Church is honored to host the Veterans Mass each year and to remember all those who served our country, particularly those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Rev. Fitzgerald. “Many veterans attended St. Paul and their families still worship here."
At the conclusion of the service, Colonel Murphy read the names of all Wellesley veterans who served in the military, beginning with the Revolutionary War in which one recorded Wellesley resident served and died. The record also reflects that there were 12 soldiers from Wellesley in the Civil War; one in the Spanish American War; six in World War I; 56 in World War II; one in the Korean War; four in Vietnam, and eight veterans who died while in military service, not combat.
In the vestibule of the church, elder veterans dressed in the uniforms of their respective branch of service joked that their uniforms still fit. “It is really remarkable the uniform fits,” joked Lieutenant Hinchliffe, who was an aid to the commanding General in Berlin during World War II. “This uniform was made in 1943!” he exclaimed.
The Veterans’ Ecumenical Memorial Mass is incorporated with the Wellesley Wonderful Weekend and the Annual Wellesley Veteran’s Parade.